Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hanging Drywall On Curved Walls

Recently, the question came up on how do you bend drywall around curved or radius walls. One might not have to apply drywall to a curved surface very often, but its good information to have when you do.

Depending on the size of the curve or radius that is being covered, will determine what thickness of drywall will be used. A radius of 2 foot or smaller may require multiple layers of 1/4" thick drywall. Normal residential drywall applications use 1/2" drywall to finish walls. In this case two layers of 1/4" would be used.

The trick is to get the drywall to bend. To do this the drywall needs to be wet. The best way I have found is to put water on the drywall is with a garden sprayer. The easiest way to control the bending of the drywall is to lay it in a form matching the radius of the wall, soffit, ceiling or whatever the application might be.

The last drywall bend I did I had the benefit of using the actual wall section to use as a form. It was an eight foot high wall, framed to a three foot radius. Only one side of the wall was being covered, the inside radius. We decided to cover the radius with one layer of 1/4" plywood and one layer of 1/4" drywall to match the 1/2" on the straight walls.

We laid the wall framing inside radius down, on the floor. The overall length of the radius was just under eight feet. We laid two sheets face down over our form. We then started spraying the back side of the drywall with water. As we applied the water, the drywall started bending immediately. It didn't take very much water or time to get the ends of the drywall to droop down and touch the form.

We let the dampened drywall lay on the form overnight to dry. The next day when we lifted the drywall from the form, it kept the shape of the radius. When it came time to glue and screw the drywall to the curved framing, it fit like a glove with very little if any stress to the material.

Its not very often that one gets to hang drywall on a curved wall, but with a little knowledge, you'll look like a professional.

Mike Merisko (C)2008

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Installing Vinyl Siding

Of all the available exterior finishes, vinyl siding is probably the easiest to install. By following a few basic rules to the installation of vinyl siding, almost anyone can do it.

The first rule is to start out level and straight. The starter strip that holds the first course of siding must be installed level and straight. This helps insure that the following courses are also level and straight. It also helps if other siding accessories are also installed properly. Outside corners must be installed plumb and straight. Inside corners, undersill and j-channel accessories must also be correctly nailed in place.

The second rule is to NOT nail the vinyl siding tight to the wall. Because vinyl siding expands and contracts with variations in temperature, it must be allowed to move. Vinyl siding has a nailing strip with slots for nailing. Nails must be placed in the center of these slots. The nails must also not be nailed home. The nail head must be driven about an eighth of an inch short of the nailing strip. After nailing the siding must be able to slide to the left and right.

The third rule is to cut the siding to the proper length. Vinyl siding must not fit tight in corners or J-channels. Again this is to allow movement for temperature change. In cold weather, siding must be cut 3/8 inch short of the insides of corners and J-channels. In warm weather this measurement is 1/4 inch. When siding ends lap in a course, the siding must overlap a minimum of 3/4 of an inch.

By following the three basic rules one can have a professional looking vinyl siding installation job. It should look straight and level and be free of waves and "oil canning".

Mike Merisko (C)2008
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Solar Power Solutions At Home

With energy sources depleting at a rate faster than they are being built, it is only wise that we use the abundant energy available for free – the solar energy. Apart from the easy availability, solar energy helps control environmental pollution. Most of us shy away from installing solar power solutions at home thinking them to be expensive and cumbersome. You will, however, be surprised to know how easy it is to employ these power solutions. Moreover, these will help cut down your power bills. Finally, you will be delighted to know tat you are doing your bit to save power for the future generations.

This article will explore the various solar power options available for home use.

Solar cooker: A solar cooker is a cooking utensil that uses absolutely no fuel for cooking. You can cook food for up to five people in the small box. If you are thinking that using a solar cooker will reduce your chances of spreading up a varied platter on the dining table, you will be surprised to know that you can not only boil food items in the cooker but also roast and bake! The only limitation with the solar cooker is the time it takes to cook. However, given the free source of energy it uses, this is a great option for cutting down those sky-rocketing bills and saving some power.

Solar home lighting: A solar home lighting system converts solar energy into electrical energy for your home. This is done via cells that are charged with solar energy. So, in the night, if you wonder how the lights are on in the house, it is because of the solar energy stored in the solar cells. You can install the solar home lighting system in your house and not worry about the electricity bills anymore.

Solar heating system: Installing a solar heating system in your home helps cutting down your electricity bill along with saving the world’s quickly-exhausting power. If you are worried that a solar heating system will turn your sweet home into a gadget house or that it will be an expensive investment, your concerns are misplaced. Companies providing solar power solutions for homes make it a point to install aesthetically-pleasing heating systems in your house. As per as expenditure is concerned, investing in a solar heating system is wise because you get a return on your investment within 3-4 years, giving you absolutely free service after that.

Make power at home with solar and wind energy to eliminate your power bill. Get our complete guide at

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What Nails To Use To Build A House

What nails do you use to build a house? There are not that many different kinds of nails that are used to construct a home. The two most used nails to rough in a house are the 8 penny and 16 penny nail (8d and 16d).

Eight penny nails are used to nail down plywood or OSB (oriented strand board). This includes the sheet goods for the deck, the walls and the roof. Each sheet of plywood or OSB will take at least 80 nails to nail it down. A 2000 square foot house will use about 5,000 8d nails just for the plywood floors.

Sixteen penny nails are used to nail the homes framing members. These nails connect the joists to the sill plates and rim joists, top and bottom plates to studs,ceiling joists to top plates and rafters to top plates, ceiling joists and ridge board. Sixteen penny nails are also used to build headers and fly rafters. These nails also get used to nail wall bracing in place till other components like second floors, ceiling joists and rafters are nailed in place.

Other nails that play a part in building a house are 4d nails for cross bridging, cap nails for foam sheathing, roofing nails for shingles and galvinized splitless nails for wood siding. Depending on other finishes there are still other nails that are used, but the ones mentioned here are the ones used the most.

Mike Merisko(C)2008

Saturday, October 18, 2008

How To Build A Gable Overhang

How To Build A Gable Overhang

How do you build a gable overhang? It can be tricky for a first timer but can be a fairly simple thing to do.

A normal gable overhang is usually 12 to 24 inches wide. It is made up of rafters that are called fly rafters and are usually constructed of 2x or 1x lumber. The fly rafters are usually one size smaller in width than the rafters used to frame the main roof. If the roof was framed with 2x8's the fly rafters would be 2x6's.

When framing the overhang, the ridge board is stopped with the last common rafter. By doing this, having to cut down and reduce the size of the ridge is avoided to match the plumb cut on the fly rafters. If the common rafters were 2x8's, the ridge would have to be a 2x10. If the fly rafters were 2x6's, the 2x10 ridge would hang below the plumb cut of the fly rafter, putting it in the way of the finish soffit material.

Three quarters of an inch must be added to the length of the fly rafters when cutting them to make up for the missing ridge. This is half the thickness of the ridge. Four rafters must be cut to make the gable overhang, two for each side of the gable.

Let's say the overhang is to be 12" wide and 2x6 lumber is used. What we build will
look like a ladder. Two 2x6 fly rafters are separated by 9", 2x6 blocks 24 inches on center, starting at the bottom of the plumb cut, and continuing down to at least the birdsmouth cut.

Once building the ladder they can be nailed against the last common rafter. Before lifting the overhangs up, start 16 penny nails in between all the blocking. This is to keep from holding the overhang in place, and trying to start a nail, all at the same time. The overhang is held tight to the last common rafter on the gable. The top of the fly rafter is held even with the top of the common rafter. The plumb cut on the fly rafter should line up with the center of the ridge board. When all these requirements are met, the overhang is then nailed to the common rafter. This procedure is then repeated for the other side of the gable.

The overhangs support themselves as their plumb cuts lean against each other and are nailed together. The bottoms of the overhangs are supported being nailed into a 2x subfascia. Additional support is added when the plywood sheathing is nailed to the common rafters and into the overhangs.

Gable overhangs built in this manner will provide nailing for whatever finish the soffit and fascia may be.

Mike Merisko (C)2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Little Info On Composite Deck Lumber

I recently built a deck around an oval pool. The railings, deck and trim boards where all composite materials. Composite lumber is a material that is a combination of wood and plastic. It seemed that these deck parts were made up of mostly plastic.

The longest pieces ordered for this deck where 12' long. All pieces were very dense and were considerably heavier than conventional deck materials (treated, cedar, redwood, etc.).

Even though these materials seemed to be mostly plastic, it worked like real wood. Its reaction to power tools like circular saws, miter saws, and routers was very similar to working with wood, if not better. It also chisled well, and at times seemed easier than wood.

All connections involving the composite materials was done with stainless steel screws. The deck boards (5 1/2" wide 1 1/4" thick) were screwed down to the joists with stainless steel trim screws. When the screws were buried below the deck boards surface, the material mushroomed around the head of the screw. Hitting this area back down with a hammer made the screws nearly invisible. This was also the case with the railings and trim boards.

The cost of composite decking and railings is more than conventional lumber. The fact that composite materials will not rot, fade or need to be stained or painted may far outweigh that cost factor.

Mike Merisko (C)2008

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Garage Building in the UP of Michigan, Part 5

Happy New Year!

We ended up staying in the UP for an extra day to finish building the garage. The only Things we had left to finish were the gable ends and laying the felt paper on the other side of the gable roof.

The studs for framing the gable ends had already been cut by Tim the day before off of numbers I had given to him. By measuring the stud under the ridge I can determine the length of all the gable studs on 16 inch centers. By knowing the pitch of the roof (7/12), multiply the rise per foot times four. In this case that's 28 inches. Thats how much the roof pitch falls in 4 feet. There are 3 studs in four feet so we divide 28 inches by 3. This is 9 and 1/3 of an inch. When the studs are cut, each one will be 9 and 1/3 inches shorter than the proceeding one. If the first stud is 70 inches, the next one will be 60 and 2/3 inches, followed by 51 1/3", 42" and so on.

Tony and I nailed in all the gable studs. While we did that, Tim and Jim cut the plywood for the gable ends. I gave Tim the numbers for these cuts also. We already know the roof falls 28" every four feet. If the height under the ridge is 70", the short side cut on the plywood will be 42 inches. the next piece will be 42 inches on the long side and 14 inches on the short side. To get the last piece measure whats left on what would be the bottom of the plywood. In this case it would be 24 inches. The last piece would be 14 inches on the long side to 0 inches on the short side and 24 inches long across the bottom.

Once Tony and I finished the framing on the gable ends, we started putting the plywood (OSB) on the gables. This went fairly quickly since it was already precut for us. This left only the felt paper to be put on.

We saved the felt paper for last because we wanted to make sure there was no frost on the roof. We also put the felt in the house to keep it warm so it would lay flatter. The felt we put on the day before did not want to lay flat and would tear easily if we weren't careful. We were hoping for a snowfall soon after we finished. Any high winds would rip the paper and reduce the protection from the weather. Snow would cover the paper and protect it from the wind.

We covered the garage door and service door openings with plastic to keep any snow out of garage for our final detail before packing up and heading back home.

All things considered the project went well. Weather was a factor but not as much as it could have been. It was cold but there was no wind and it did not snow. As long as you kept active it didn't seem as cold as the thermometer indicated.

The nail guns did not work as well in the cold weather by either jamming more frequently or the plunger not recovering fast enough to bounce nail the plywood. Oiling the guns helped reduce these problems.

Would I do it again? If I could be guaranteed the same weather conditions, yes. Snow and wind would have made the project difficult to do and would have taken longer to complete.

Mike Merisko